I did put a choice cut in there for you butt rock lovers
April 2, 2015 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Tired of video games with soundtracks full of butt rock, gloomy dirges and electronic haze? You're in luck! Games also have a proud tradition of whimsical, charming, jazzy, funky, jaunty, zany, serene, uplifting, and even joyous tunes!

And if you like upbeat game music, here are some playlists you might enjoy:

Rayman Legends

Katamari Damacy


Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future

Space Channel 5 (Part 2)


Grim Fandango

Oh, and in case you actually AREN'T tired of gloomy dirges and electronic haze, here is a bonus recommend:

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
posted by selfnoise (33 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Not tired of it, so thanks for the Splinter Cell playlist. Also, if you look up "nameless dread" at websterunabridged.com it's just a link to the Quake soundtrack.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:45 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I clicked all of your excellent links and none of them were Dum Da Dum Doi Doi from the Neverhood soundtrack. So here's those.
posted by rlk at 3:50 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Quake soundtrack might be cliché now, but at the time it was excellent, new, and fit the theme so well.

Some interesting pieces: posted by sonic meat machine at 3:53 PM on April 2, 2015

Oh, and in case you actually AREN'T tired of gloomy dirges and electronic haze

Above the fold I was like, b-but Amon Tobin.
posted by nom de poop at 4:08 PM on April 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you want a song that is so far against type it left my jaw on the floor, the closing track for Reaper of Souls.

Serious What-The-Eff moment today when somebody used it for a Diablo 3 mod showcase and I thought they'd sampled the Up soundtrack.
posted by Ryvar at 4:13 PM on April 2, 2015

Props on recommending Hydrogen, sonic meat machine - overwhelming standout in a uniformly fantastic soundtrack.

And while selfnoise already linked a Jet Set Radio song, "Birthday Cake" from Jet Set Radio Future deserves its own mention for fitting the onscreen action and gameplay feel so well that I still throw it on when polishing movement verb prototypes. I've somehow come to associate it with the zen that accompanies sublime flow in navigation.
posted by Ryvar at 4:23 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

What, no Baba Yetu?
posted by Zonker at 4:32 PM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

This might be a good place to wax rhapsodic abut a couple of tracks that absolutely made Half Life 2 for me - both of which probably fall into the 'electronic haze' genre. The first, CP violation occurs right at the beginning, when you first encounter Civil Protection. It is the exact moment when HL2 tranistions from setup/exposition to nail-biting FPS. The second, Lab Practicum, plays at various points during the game but most powerfully when you first encounter the Bridge section ofHighway 17. That track perfectly complemented the vanishing-point perspective and wind noise to create a mesmerizing tableau.
posted by googly at 4:41 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

It is very, uh, bro-step, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the music of Saint's Row IV. And the whole rest of that game.
posted by poe at 4:58 PM on April 2, 2015

It is very, uh, bro-step, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the music of Saint's Row IV yt . And the whole rest of that game.

The later Saints Rows and Just Cause 2 are almost the only GTA clones to embrace the idea that players are just going to create random mayhem in their sandboxes and to let them run with that rather than burdening the whole thing with a tedious plot about mysterious, troubled men turning to violence as a last resort or something.
posted by Copronymus at 5:08 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Since Zonker beat me to "No Baba Yetu?", I'll just confess that I thought the dubstep track for Far Cry 3's weed-burning mission totally made that sequence. (Fair warning: it's intensely bro-y.)
posted by postcommunism at 5:13 PM on April 2, 2015

In line with this, one needs to mention the music from Skullmonkeys, Abe's Oddysee, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future, and of course the forever badass theme from Command and Conquer: Red Alert.
posted by mightygodking at 5:13 PM on April 2, 2015

Oh yeah, C&C! Hell March was badass when I was younger. Now it sounds very, very late 90s.

How about the Terran theme in the original StarCraft?
posted by postcommunism at 5:18 PM on April 2, 2015

The Chrono Cross Intro has always been one of my favorite non-traditional videogame tunes. It was pretty eye opening at the time, now I think its just a great theme and excellently conveys the tone of the game.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:29 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Holding Out for a Hero" in Saints Row 3 was pretty wonderful.
posted by asperity at 5:53 PM on April 2, 2015

It is very, uh, bro-step, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the music of Saint's Row IV. And the whole rest of that game.

They institutionalized the idea in 3 and 4, but the best musical thingy in SR is in 2 when you'd be driving along and your little dude(tte) would start singing along to Take On Me or some Tears for Fears or even Sister Christan with enthusiasm if not talent.

Female voice 3 FTW.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:05 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I pretty much love everything Disasterpeace does, but the Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake OST is especially fun.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 6:20 PM on April 2, 2015

"Bro-step" might be my favorite musical genre classification ever

ALSO basically all of Disasterpeace's oeuvre is amazing, with particular emphasis on how effectively his soundtrack MADE the game Fez.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:33 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Swords and Sworcery soundtrack is just spectacularly gorgeous. I listen to it on the regular when I need to focus for work for an hour with headphones and no lyrics. Jim Guthrie, everyone.
posted by kahboom at 6:59 PM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

To The Moon was one of my favorite indie games in the last decade and the soundtrack is a huge reason for that. Everything's Alright gets me every time.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:31 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

What's that? Videogame music you say? Well, I'll surely try!

Masashi Hamauzu (Final Fantasy X, SaGa Frontier 2):

Besaid (2013 ver)
Gamma 1
Wandering Flame

Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears):

Time's Scar

Hideki Naganuma (Jet Set Radio):

The Concept of Love
Blake Buck Mixtape

Quintet stuff (Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma):

In the Earthen Womb guitar cover
Crysta flute/piano cover
The Way Home

Megami Tensei stuff:

Hellion Sounds - Ex-Convict
Battle Mix

Odds & Ends:

Thermosphere (Lix Mix) : Einhander Rebellion
Ecce Valde Generous Ale (Behold the Precious Wings) : Panzer Dragoon Saga
World of Mana : Legend of Mana
Old Friends : Transistor
Sun Temple : Aquaria
Artificial Paradise : Lack of Love

I'll stop
posted by byanyothername at 7:46 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, I should've mentioned: Naganuma is currently doing the music for an upcoming game called Hover, which is more or less the heir to Jet Set Radio. There's also a totally different project, an animated pilot called Urbance, which is worth checking out as well if you're a fan of that whole aesthetic.

And Mitsuda and Hamauzu also have a number of non-game albums that are exquisitely beautiful.
posted by byanyothername at 7:58 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jet Grind Radio for Dreamcast, what a lovely soundtrack and aesthetic. Truly a gem. Game is whatever to play, but to look at and listen to? Amazing.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:19 PM on April 2, 2015

Wow, thanks for adding all this great music!

One thing I forgot, but that some of the strings linked to above reminded me of: Skies of Arcadia Title Screen. I remember being REALLY surprised to hear this serene music when I first put the disc in.
posted by selfnoise at 8:22 PM on April 2, 2015

It is very, uh, bro-step, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the music of Saint's Row IV. And the whole rest of that game.

Worth noting: the song linked above (which I enjoy, not even in spite of its bro-step) is a dubstep version of the menu music from Saints Row the Third, which always put me in the mood to play that game. Also, no mention of Saints Row IV's soundtrack is complete without the dubstep gun.

For whatever reason, though, western games rarely do very much with their soundtracks besides set atmosphere and tone. Saints Row was an exception in that regard, using licensed songs to punctuate specific moments in the game (Red Dead Redemption is another commonly cited example). Japanese games, at least to me, have more memorable soundtracks with songs that work even in isolation to the original product. The Persona series and the Katamari Damacy series are two obvious ones, but some of my personal leftfield favourites come from Atelier games. I'll just stick with the intro to Atelier Ayesha, which is both one of my favourite game themes and one of my favourite opening videos ever.
posted by chrominance at 8:42 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just discovered that Hideki Naganuma has a Soundcloud. Where he posts crazy-ass remixes and experiments. Where is the 'download all tracks' button.
posted by egypturnash at 9:45 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite video game musics:
Spyro the Dragon — 123by Stewart Copeland (the drummer for The Police)
Crash Bandicoot — 123by Mark Mothersbaugh (the Devo founder guy)
posted by not_on_display at 12:00 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been truly enjoying the podcast Top Score, which is a weekly interview show by a public radio classical music station host interviewing video game music composers. If you have any interest at all in video game music, you certainly should check out her guest list from past episodes and listen to any interviews done for games / composers you enjoy. She's got a good rapport with her interview subjects and she's obviously a gamer and she obviously knows music, and her guests can range from deeply insightful to downright uninformative. (It's obvious some of these people are NOT used to being interviewed, like, ever.)
posted by hippybear at 12:44 AM on April 3, 2015

I listen pretty much exclusively to game soundtracks while working, because I write, and need something without distracting lyrics. Also I can generally find something that fits the mood of what I'm writing.

Particular favorites have been Sword & Sworcery (linked above), Device 6, Fez, Crypt of the Necrodancer, and Hotline Miami.
posted by rifflesby at 3:32 AM on April 3, 2015

No Interstate '76 ?

You disappoint me, students.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:26 AM on April 3, 2015

If you scrape away all the music in my brain the bottom layer is probably the ME2 world scanning music looped forever. (Link surely not necessary.)
posted by nom de poop at 7:12 AM on April 3, 2015

I wanted to make sure No Sex for Ben was in this thread. That's all, thank you
posted by capricorn at 8:26 AM on April 3, 2015

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